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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Veterans group Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan has hit back at critics who slammed it over its silence on Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi’s remark on the Lahad Datu invasion, saying Barisan Nasional (BN) Cabinet had interfered with the operation.
In a statement today, its president Brig Gen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said while the security forces were not at fault, they should have been given free rein and the members of Cabinet then has a lot to answer for.
“Patriot is of the view that the conduct of our security forces during the incident in February/March 2013 was magnanimous. They had followed orders. What bungled was the interference of ministers who behaved like generals.
“The real generals and ground commanders should have been given free rein without political interference. Orders should have been shoot-to-kill and no negotiation with armed foreign intruders, as we have mentioned in our previous statements,” he said.
The defence minister then had been Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Arshad also said the incident had happened because certain factions were unhappy with the peace deals and talks which took place in Kuala Lumpur and Manila involving the federal government.
“It is shocking if the allegation about land in Sabah being promised to the ‘foreign intruders’ is true. Key Cabinet members at that time have a lot to answer to,” he added.
Besides Zahid, Arshad also listed then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, home minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, and foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman as those who should explain their decisions during the incident.
Patriot also said it can distinguish the use of semantics and rhetoric in politics, especially if they were made during campaigning, and Mohamaddin should have learnt his lesson following the barrage of public criticism.
In February 2013, about 200 armed Filipinos, followers of Jamalul Kiram III, the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, entered Lahad Datu, sparking conflict with Malaysian security forces.
The Lahad Datu standoff reportedly saw a total of 68 deaths — 56 from the intruders, nine from the Malaysian authorities and six civilians.
Earlier this week, Mohamaddin said he did not insult the security forces in the Tanduo incident when speaking in Kampung Wawasan during the Sabah state election campaign.
Mohamaddin said what he wanted to raise at the campaign talk was the failure of the then Barisan Nasional government to strengthen its defence assets at the country’s borders which led to the incursion by armed militants in Kampung Tanduo.
Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal has also apologised to members of the security forces and their families for Mohamaddin’s remarks.